Former chief rabbi, corona victim, laid to rest

Praised as a learned sage who espoused tolerance and love for the people, Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron died in Jerusalem from complications due to the coronavirus.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, was laid to rest Monday after passing away due to complications from the coronavirus.

The 79-year-old Torah scholar had served as chief rabbi from 1993 to 2003 and died on Sunday five days after being admitted to hospital. He had been admitted with symptoms associated with the pandemic and a test found him to be a carrier.

Tributes to the late religious leader poured in, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he was deeply grieved by the rabbi’s passing and offering condolences to his family and many students.

“His memory will continue to be etched in the hearts of our people,” Netanyahu tweeted. “Rabbi Bakshi-Doron was a teacher for all Jewish communities in Israel and around the world. I met him many times and was always struck by his warm personality.”

“For him the Torah was a guide for life. His essence was understanding, tolerance and love for the people and the state.”

President Reuven Rivlin mourned the late rabbi. “Rabbi Bakshi-Doron was a tremendously wise student with a deep responsibility for all of Israel, a rabbi, a father and a guide to the communities of Israel both inside Israel and in the Diaspora,” Rivlin tweeted.

Bakshi-Doron was born in Jerusalem in 1941 and grew up studying in religious-Zionist seminaries. He served as chief rabbi of the cities of Bat Yam and Haifa before being appointed one of Israel’s two chief rabbis in 1993, serving the community of Sephardic Jews with the title Rishon Lezion (First of Zion), a title bestowed on the position for the past 300 years.

He served alongside Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who held the position of chief Ashkenazic rabbi during the same period.

A father of 10 children, his wife Esther died in 2005.